Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe on those who call evil good," but that's exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess that:
Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of Your will. I ask it in the name of Your Son,the living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called a Christian nation that fears the Lord!
This prayer was actually spoken before the Kansas State Legislature.
When minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but what they heard instead was a stirring prayer, passionately calling our country to repentance and righteousness.
The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest. In six short weeks, the Central Christian Church had logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of the prayer from India, Africa and Korea. Commentator PAUL HARVEY aired the prayer on The Rest of the Story on the radio and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired !!
The Signers of The Declaration of independence
On July 4th, 1776, fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. They were not wild-eyed radicals; they were dedicated men of means and education.
Twenty-four of them were lawyers. Eleven of them were merchants. Nine of them were plantation owners. Of the fifty-six, nine of them died in the Revolutionary War. Five were captured and executed by the British. The homes of twelve of them were ransacked and burned.
Corder Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy trader, saw his ships swept from the sea by the British Navy. Thomas McKean lost all his possessions and died in poverty. Ellery, Clamer, Hall, Walton, Guinette, Hayward, Rutledge and Middleton saw their homes looted and destroyed.
The signers of the Declaration of independence valued freedom and God's will more than they valued their properties and their lives. Standing tall, straight and unwavering, they pledged for the support of this declaration, a firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence of almighty God. These are those who laid the foundation of our nation.
Steve Forgacs went to he with the Lord on June 7, 1999. He was for many years a resident of the Bethesda Baptist Retirement Home here in Palm Bay, Florida. He was also a member of our church and served as an usher and on our Board. For many years he had been a member of the Silliman Memorial Baptist Church in Bridgeport, Conn. He had served the Lord wherever he had lived and was well loved and respected by all who had known him. He is survived by a son
Steven, a daughter Judy, and a brother Louis. I had the privilege to visit with him during the last moments of life. He could no longer speak but he did smile in recognition. We said a prayer and sang for him that old hymn, "We=re waiting for our Jesus when He comes -- Mi várjuk az Úr Jézust mikor jön.@ He closed his eyes with a smile and that was the last moments of his life. He was an old friend going back to our childhood days. It was sad to see his life ebb away, but we know that God is a loving and forgiving God and will receive all who truly love and trust in Him. We will all miss Steve but we rejoice in the promise of God that we will meet again on that day when He will return to take us into His heavenly home. Good Bye, old friend, we=ll meet again. ___Ernest J. Kish
Hungarian Baptist Aid
Baptist World Aid (BWAid) continues to support those suffering from the war in the Balkans. Already BWAid has sent $50,000 to Albania to feed and clothe refugees; $15,000 to Macedonia to assist in food parcel distribution and $30,000 to Hungary to assist in paying for relief shipments to Albania and Serbia and provide holidays for war worn children.
BWAid support has enabled Hungarian Baptist Aid (HBAid) to help Serbian children suffering from the trauma of the bombing to have a short holiday in Hungary. Sandor Szenczy, the director of HBAid, has been working with Baptist relief organizations in Serbia - Tabita, Bread of Life and Love your Neighbour, to provide holidays at Lake Balaton.
Five-year-old Ana said, "In Novi Sad we have no more bridges across the river Danube. (They were all destroyed by missiles) In Budapest there were many bridges across the Danube. I like them very much!" One mother, Julijana, said "the ten days of recovery meant very much to me and my three children. Five years old Dejan was terribly afraid and cried during every air strike. After coming home from Balaton he still wakes up but there is no more screaming."
In addition, HBAid has transported food and other relief goods to these agencies and to Albania. (BWA Information Service)
2,212 OF THE 6,500
Portions of the Bible have been translated into more than one-third of the world=s languages. Scripture is available in 2,212 of the world=s 6,500 languages, the United Bible Societies reports. Three complete Bible translations became available in 1998 for Baoule speakers in Cote d=Ivoire, the Konkomba people in Ghana, and Kyrgyz speakers in Kyrgyzstan. Four New Testament translations have been completed for the Ari in Ethiopia, the Siriano of Colombia, Loozime speakers in Cameroon, and the Tipperah in Bangladesh.
Reflections on our 92nd Convention
Since it was the one hundredth year following the start of our Hungarian Baptist Mission in the City of Cleveland, it was not by chance that the theme of our Convention was "Our Present and Our Future." Naturally there were no original members present at this time since they were all with the Lord. But there were a few old timers present who remembered same of the people and events that prevailed during our early years. What a joy it was to review the history of our Hungarian Baptist heritage. The faith and actions of our founding fathers carried the work of our Hungarian Baptist movement throughout the USA and Canada even to this day.
The spiritual level of our 92nd Convention reflected the deep faith by which our founding fathers began their work so many years ago. We heard five presentations revolving around building on our past. They were, 1. Love, which is the foundation of our present relationships, 2. We have a present because we have a task to do, 3. We have a future because Christ is the Lord of tomorrow, 4. We have a future because we have faith, and finally, 5. God has guided us and will continue to walk with us. Each speaker gave us much to think about. Our past was formed by the spirit of God. Our present is reliant on our faithfulness to the Lord, and our future is in His hands and our successes will depend on our faith and trust in God, and our love for one another. The tone of our Convention was positive and on a high spiritual level.
In addition to the spiritual aspects of our meetings, financial matters were also presented which indicated the need for closer attention to our contributions toward our missions projects. The lack of money is always a challenge to our continuing missions programs. We have programs in being within our own country as well as in Europe. Both are important and needed. We pray that all of our churches and organizations will seriously consider increasing their commitments in the year to come.
The report on the Bethesda Baptist Retirement Home was a bit more positive. Our fiscal year ended more positively. Our Home is constantly full and there is a demand for our Christian services. But, because of the business demands of our State, and because of the problems prevelentwith their implementation, it was recommended that we sell the Home and use some of the sales proceeds for local missions projects and invest the balance with our American Baptist Churches in Valley Forge, Pa. The interest from this investment would then guarantee the continuance of our ongoing missions programs both here and abroad. This matter was thoroughly discussed and accepted by those in attendance. More information on this matter will be forthcoming as matters develop.
During our three day meeting, we had the pleasure of meeting many of our old timers and to develop new relationships with our newer members. Gods presence was felt throughout our entire deliberations and we did not detect any negative controversy during our time together. For this we praise the Lord. May God continue to bless us and keep us together as a group of Hungarians who love the Lord and who desire to spread God's word to all who will listen. Please continue carry us in your prayers. God bless you all. ___Ernest J. Kish
We were attending our 92nd Hungarian Baptist Convention when we received word of the passing to glory of our beloved Ruby Udvarnoki. Ruby was the wife of our own Dr. Bela Udvarnoki who was a mainstay in our Convention for many years, Ruby's journey through life was amazing, She was the last of 12 children. She was born and raised in North Carolina. She was faithful in her attendance in Sunday School. She listened to her older sister vividly tells biblical stories to children. It was at an early age that she decided to go into the foreign field and tell the little children of Jesus. That was the motivation behind her travels and her teaching ministry.
She graduated from Chowan College with a BA degree in 1929. She taught school locally and then pursued additional studies in Louisville where she attained a Master of Religious Education degree. Then under the banner of the Southern Baptist Convention, she journeyed to Budapest, Hungary, then to Bucharest, Romania and then back to Budapest as a missionary to be a director in a girls school. Due to the war, she returned to New Orleans where she became Dean of Women at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. After the war she was assigned to Nigeria where she was assigned to teach at Iwo Baptist College. On returning to North Carolina, she met and married Dr. Bela Udvarnoki on July 5th, 1947.
Everything Ruby did in life grew out of her commitment to the Lord and her belief that God had called her into a life of service to others. Her purpose in was to serve the Lord and to be used for the glory of God. Both Ruby and Dr. Bela had all visitors sign one of their guest books upon each visit. May I now suggest that Ruby has signed the most significant of all guest books that of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Ruby had embarked on her final journey on Friday, July 9, 1999. She went with great excitement and anticipation for not only would she be re-united with her beloved Bela, but also that she would be in the presence of God. She saw the world with her eyes, but she touched the world with her heart. Whether in religious seminaries in Hungary, in classrooms of School children in Africa or at home with Bela, the spirit of the Lord shown through Ruby. Her example had been a true inspiration to many people, including those within our own Convention. We have all been touched by Ruby's life and I am sure that her heavenly father received her with open arm and as He embraced her said, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Ruby, we loved you and look forward to our grand reunion when God calls us also to our heavenly home. ____Ernest J. Kish
...Patterson (presindent, SBC) railed against modern worship service practices in a speech that rallied conservatives. He urged the delegates to reject "12-minute sermonettes generated by the >felt needs= of an assembled cast of postmodern listeners, augmented by drama and multiple repetitions of touchy-touchy, feely-feely music." Believers should be moved by the actual Scriptures rather than by creative interpretations of them, he said. "For most Baptists it
is settled forever B we believe every syllable of the Word of God to be absolutely true." Patterson, who also heads Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, received a positive response, although many moderate Baptists did not attend the convention, the Associated Press reported. For years, conservatives and moderates have clashed over theological stands codified at the annual conventions. (ReligionToday.com)
Vandals in Jerusalem
Vandals tarred a Baptist center in Jerusalem. They squirted sticky, black tar from squeeze bottles onto the bookstore and other buildings of the Baptist House Center at Narkis and Hagidem Streets during the evening of July 20, John Anthony, pastor of Jerusalem Baptist Church, said in an email report. The ministry=s bookstore has been vandalized before, but for the first time attackers entered and defaced the main buildings, Anthony said. They squeezed tar along the front and side of the Baptist House, then defaced the sanctuary entrance and placed tar along the side of the worship center, he said. The ministry notified police of the damage that night and the next morning filed a formal complaint at the Russian Compound Police Center. Anthony asked Christians to pray that the attacks would stop.
Church attendance in Littleton, Colo., has risen since the shootings at Columbine High (see link #3 below). Many congregations report increased attendance among teen-agers and adults, the Associated Press said. "It=s still like Easter Sunday every week here for a lot of churches, particularly in the Littleton area," Colorado Council of Churches Executive Director Lucia Guzman said. "Services certainly doubled in attendance."
...The April 20 massacre has changed people=s view of life and death. "This was so unexplainable, so incomprehensible B you couldn=t get your arms around it," resident Kathleen Gregory said. "When you have those times in your life you need an anchor, and the church is that anchor." She said she and her husband have rededicated their commitment to their church by attending more and becoming involved in social outreaches.
...Some churches say their services briefly increased, but returned to normal. "Whether these people are around two weeks later, whether more end up taking their faith more seriously and attending regularly, is not clear," West Bowles Community Church spokesman Chuck Moore said.
REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE MISSIONS AND LITERARY COMMETTEE
AT THE 92nd ANNUAL CONVENTION OF THE HUNGARIAN BAPTIST CONVENTION OF NORTH AMERICA B CLEVELAND, OHIO, JULY 8-10. 1999
Dear Delegates, Visitors and Guests of the Convention:
At our millenium's last Convention I hereby stand deeply moved. I consider it a great privilege to look back upon God's grace of 2,000 years and on the most animated century of our history. Our generation has the prerogative of the human existence to enter the mysterious and also promising realm of the Third Millenium, when the Almighty will give a heavy impetus to the irreversible wheel of times. Compared to any other century, the 20th is absolutely eminent. Science and technology reached to an unforeseen level, this led us to a prosperous industry and agriculture. The overproduction, the disparity between the life standard of different countries caused economic, social and political crisis. The influence of false ideologies drove huge crowds to the wrong direction. The explosion of information gathered all these and pushed mankind into chaos. Men knew only one way out of this: WAR. We received yearly news about two world wars, numerous border-clashes, civil wars, colonial wars, and revolutions. The atheist system of communism had its dawn and nightfall. When people became weary of all this, they turned to entertainment, revitalizing its most profitable industry, gambling. Hand in hand with it moral depravity reached an unprecedented abyss. On the twilight of the second millenium the humanity is willingly heading for disaster.
Nevertheless the beam of light crossed over and over our century. God did not let the crown of all creation loose heart. He ordained faithful workers, who set their time, strength, talents and life on the Lord's altar, proclaiming the Gospel throughout. God's word spread with unequalled speed, power and effect, surpassing all preceding centuries. The full Bible is translated to almost 1,500 languages. The good news can be heard daily on TV and radio waves. Missionaries are penetrating into unknown territories to take the doctrine of Jesus Christ to the heathen. Let's remember the blessed memory of brother János Cserepka. He, after a long, exhausting, assiduous and faithful labor heard his Lord's roll calling, when He ushered him into his well-deserved rest. Let us pray to the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers like brother Cserepka, into His harvest.
The existence of a Hungarian mission in the New World, on foreign land is still the greatest miracle to me. We can look back with grateful hearts to over a hundred years of history. The past is speaking for itself, we actually are watching the present, and our future is in God's hand. Through the last 20-25 years the physiognomy of our Convention has changed. Agonizing churches grew with the new wave of immigrants. Other Hungarian churches were absorbed into English ones, some ceased to exist and even sold their properties. Presently we account for 10 churches, with a membership of about 400 and 150-200 family members. The Hungarian mission in Chicago is revived, in Cleveland the "Grace" church was established, in other cities the membership is growing, brothers of Bethany church are spreading the Word within and without. The shaken unity of our Convention has been restored, delicate situations were solved. Looking around we see our membership growing younger - there are more children and young people than 10 years ago.
Reading the Gospel Messenger every month, we find valuable news. We can follow with more or less regularity the activity of almost every member church. I will recount the most important events since the last convention without claiming completeness.
1. We held baptisms in New York, Palm Bay and Toronto.
2. Child presentations were held in Chicago, Cleveland-Bethany, Detroit and New York.
3. We had weddings in Detroit, New York; Golden Anniversaries in Cleveland-Bethany (Mr. and Mrs. Zeke), and Detroit (Mr. and Mrs. Jakab).
4. In Palm Bay there was a pastoral change: Rev. Barton Brown retired, and Rev. Denzel Alexander was instated. In Cleveland - Bethany Dr. László Fazekas was elected as associate pastor.
5. The Lord summoned home János Cserepka, Steve Forgács, Eszter Balla, Elisabeth Ruth Bán, Erzsébet Vass, Bernard Szerényi, Terézia Vajda and Júlia Radványi.
6. The local mission is prospering in our churches. Chicago excels in the music ministry among the city's Hungarian community. The Bethany church is evangelizing Kitchener. Detroit is visiting our member churches and jumpstarted the GEHM program (Gospel for Every Hungarian in Michigan). Organizing the interfaith prayer-week became a general practice. In New York the good news reaches the Hungarians by TV and radio.
7. Our Youth attended camp in Colorado last August. We still gladly observe its aftereffects on our children. After the camp closing conference, the Detroit and New York meetings followed. Each and every such event draws closer together our youth, the future of our Convention.
8. Often times we struggle with worries. Our brethren of Chicago are in search for a church. In Detroit the building needed much time, energy and money consuming work. In New York we solved the air conditioning after years of struggle. The Rama Camp will finally gain a new building that will require much effort and financing.
9. We held our mid-year meeting in Palm Bay, Florida. Its results, future goal setting and recommendations will later follow. It was a work done with earnest consecration. Each member did his share for a good outcome. Mr. Tibor Mikó of Detroit deserves our grateful appreciation for his diligent work of taking minutes. We also had a guest: Dr. David Y. Lee, leader of the North American Mission Board (SBC). He inquired about our work and offered help in solving our problems - including the building in Rama Camp.
10. Internationally I have to mention the incorporation of the Hungarian Baptist World Alliance in Budapest. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Hungarian Baptist Church celebrated its 67th anniversary with a baptism. Rev. Nyúl Zoltán keeps us well informed about the mission in Yugoslavia despite the war conditions. Our Convention in fact supports him in his work. Rev. John Vadász is working as missionary in Eastern Europe under the auspices of SBC.
11. We received visitors from Hungary and Erdély: Pál Bálint, Miklós Máté, Márton Szabó, Dániel Mónus, Tibor Király, Zalán Dániel and Dr. József Simon. The list does not stop here, only the enumeration.
12. To the Gospel Messenger report I just add the following: let us support it, circulate it and read it.
At the mid-year meeting we asked ourselves: how could we improve the effectiveness of our mission. Having great joy for seeing each other despite the distances between our homes, we received a stimulus to make plans for our future. Let me recount some ideas that our committee accepted unanimously.
A. We prepared a project that includes the committee's functioning principles and scope of duties. It has many ideas that can be useful in our ministry.
B. We support brother Háló's motion to rewrite our bylaws. To this task we propose the nomination of Rev. Sándor Kulcsár, Dr. László Fazekas, Ernest J. Kish and Barnabás Gy. Háló.
C. Our editor, Rev. Dr. Géza A. Herjeczki is asking our fellow workers to send him writings on a regular basis. We also urge our churches to nominate members who would relate all events in order to offer more information about our ministry to the readers.
D. We recommend churches and pastors to exchange experience about the local mission. Knowing different methods and results we can better our Godly commission.
E. We'd like to ask a motion to nominate Rev. Hunter Vadász János to the position of "Traveling Missionary". He is in this line of work for some years with the SBC. On demand he could do the same in our churches.
F. Our brethren from Hungary and Erdély are editing a new hymnal. They would welcome our contribution of some songs. We make a motion to form a Music Committee of our learned members. We suggest the inclusion of Für Béla, Oláh Imre, Esther Plyler and Dénes Endre. The list is not complete, for we would like to have the help of people from other churches also.
G. Our bi-lingual hymnal would also deserve a new edition. Let's have this in our plans also.
H. Here is the list of the organizers of future Conventions: 2000- Toronto, 2001- Alhambra, 2002- Detroit, 2003- Chicago, 2004- New York.
I. We are concerned yearly for reaching our financial goals. It is easy to set them, but is difficult to meet them. We hereby urge everybody, to be faithful in giving.
J. Motion to pass our Budget of 1999/2000. - Kindly permit me to quote a lovely Bible verse to paragraphs "I" and "J": "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Mal 3:10.
Our Convention's motto is "Our Present and our Future - The good fight of faith." Everything proves of a beautiful past. We gratefully remember our predecessors, who did not back off even in difficult times. They worked diligently to keep our mission alive. Our present surpasses all hopes, just let us look around. We have to seize the opportunities that so obviously
offer themselves. We must bring the Gospel to many more Hungarians. Our growing churches must labor toward this goal.
Do we have a future? WE CERTAINLY DO! A PROMISING ONE! "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever." If we really believe this, we will not fret the unexpected Y2K events; we will not backslide seeing the difficulties. Then we can lay aside every weight, will carry out the good work, will preach the Gospel both in season and out of season, will be able to suffer, to endure, to love, to reconcile men to God, and to bear in our bodies the suffering of Christ. Let the love of Christ constrain us, let His Word be in our hearts as burning fire shut up in our bones, that would not let us be quiet about it. Let our feet be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, carrying out the great commission, knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord. We will have a vigorous future, and the work well done, the perseverance and victory in the good fight will receive its worthy prize, the crown of life.
With brotherly love, Endre Dénes
Molnar Balazs was born in Tiszagyulahaza, Hungary on October 7, 1916. He was the third of four sons born to John and Julianna Molnar. They were of the Roman Catholic faith, but later among the first Baptist families in that town.
In 1926, during a time when many European peoples were emigrating to Canada, John Molnar chose to make the trip to try his fortune there. He eventually reached southern Saskatchewan where he was hired to work for a farmer near Kipling. By the following year, he was able to arrange for the rest of the family to make the trip. Julianna and their four sons crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the SS Montnairn, landing in Montreal, Canada on July 25, 1927. A few days later, the family was reunited in Saskatchewan. They settled on a farm near Langbank, about 20 miles east of Kipling.
That fall, "Balazs" and a cousin who had also just come from Hungary went to a one-room school about four miles from home. They WALKED!!! and they walked back home in the afternoon!!! In winter months, they rode in a homemade sleigh pulled by Molly, their favorite horse. English was the only language permitted in the school or outside on the playground. The newcomers were teased mercilessly because they could not understand what the other children were saying. "Balazs" recalls the wonderful teacher in that school. Even though she was responsible for teaching all grades, she took time to work one-on-one with him, helping him to master the new language and the new sounds, especially the "th" words. (In later years, he would say that God worked through her to help equip him for bilingual ministry.)
It was hard for people in that area to pronounce his name so they began to call him "Bill". As he became more fluent in English, he was able to be an interpreter. Farmers and businessmen took Bill with them to translate in connection with the sale of property.
There were other Hungarian Baptist families in the Kipling-Kennedy area, and they had established a Hungarian Baptist church (now Calvary Baptist Church). The Molnar family joined that congregation and, for some time, traveled the twenty miles by horse-drawn wagon to attend Sunday services.
During his early teen years, Bill began to have difficulty walking. Finally, a doctor at the sanatorium in Fort Qu=Appelle, Saskatchewan diagnosed tuberculosis in his left hip. Bill remained in the sanatorium for twenty-five months, with his hip in a cast, causing the joint to fuse. Teachers were available there so he could continue with his education.
He was able to return home in 1932, and help his father with work on the farm. During those mid-teen years, he made a profession of his faith in Christ, and, along with two other young men, Fred Baker and Andrew Daku, was baptized by the Reverend William Tatter. It was an outdoor service at a nearby lake.
By his twentieth birthday, Bill was already planning to acquire land and farm on his own. It was not to be. He was beginning to sense that God had other plans for his life.
About that same time, the Reverend George Balla came from Toronto, Ontario and preached at their church. One day, he visited the Molnar farm and went out to the field where Bill was working. He persuaded him to consider seriously God's call to ministry.
So it came to pass that, in the early fall of 1938, Bill left home with a wicker basket containing all his belongings and one hundred dollars -- all the money the family could provide. He purchased a train ticket and was on his way to Toronto. Rev. Balla met him in Toronto and introduced him to Mr. and Mrs. Henry Werle. Their home became his "home away from home" while he lived in Toronto.
Bill enrolled at Toronto Bible College. In addition to his classes, he did janitorial work at the college four hours each day. He was paid 25 cents an hour. Later, he continued his studies at McMaster Divinity School in Hamilton. Early in that time, another name was assigned to him. He had handed in a paper with his name at the top: "Bill Molnar". The professor returned it to him and said, "Mr. Molnar, for academic purposes, you should use 'William'. " (At a later date, that new name became a problem because, legally on paper, "William" did not exist.) During his college years, "William" was active in several areas in Ontario: in the Hungarian Baptist churches in Toronto and Welland, and as a student pastor in New Canadian Baptist Missions in Hamilton and Brantford.
McMaster Divinity School granted "William" Molnar his diploma, class of 1944, in May of that year. He accepted the call to become the pastor of The First Hungarian Baptist Church in Toronto. In June, he married Joyce Field at the Brantford Mission where they first met. On November 24, 1944, he was ordained as a Baptist minister in the Hungarian Baptist Church in Toronto.
In January 1949, the family moved to the United states and "Pastor Bill" began eighteen years of ministry at the Hungarian Baptist Church (now Silliman Memorial) in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Other years were spent in West Haven, CT as pastor of First Baptist Church, in Palm Bay, FL as Administrator of Bethesda Baptist Retirement Home, and in New York City as pastor of the Hungarian Baptist Church. He retired from there in October of 1979.
During all those years in Ministry, he also participated in the work of the Hungarian Baptist Convention, serving on various committees, and as General Secretary as well as several terms as President. He has stood behind the pulpit and preached in almost every church within the Convention.
Retirement brought many changes. The first years were spent in Connecticut with opportunities to serve as an interim pastor. Then, in 1984, Bill and Joyce moved to Raleigh, North Carolina where they became members of Trinity Baptist Church. One more move, in 1994, brought them to Cary, a suburb of Raleigh. They continued to attend Trinity each Sunday morning.
About one mile from their new home, they passed some land and saw a sign which read "The Future Site of Westwood Baptist Church." On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in February of 1996, they attended the ground-breaking service. They watched the construction, brick upon brick. By November, one wing of the building was ready for occupancy. Bill and Joyce attended the dedication service on November 24, 1996. They realized driving the distance to Trinity was getting more difficult and, finally in January of 1997, transferred their church membership to Westwood where they could participate in evening activities in addition to daytime ones.
The education wing of the building was still just a big open space. Much of the work to complete it was done by volunteer labor. Many times, Bill was part of the work crew painting walls, staining doors, and washing windows. By the fall of 1997, the Sunday School classrooms were ready. The task of furnishing and equipping the facility is on-going.
Westwood is a church with a mission in both the community and abroad. Bill and Joyce are happy to be a part of a loving, caring church family.
"Balazs" -- "Bill" -- "William" -- and Joyce are justly proud that their sons, together with their families, are active in churches where they live. Each of the boys is a Music Director -- Leslie in Naugatuck, CT, David in Downers Grove, IL, and Larry in Raleigh. They are not ordained ministers but each has, on occasion, stood in the pulpit to preach and/or do the children=s sermon.
This article was written by Joyce Molnar as a tribute to the man who has been her loving husband for fifty-five years. Together, they are grateful to God for His marvelous grace and goodness throughout these many years.
Celebrate the Shepherd
A pastor explains why our clergy leaders need our appreciation and encouragement.
EVERY SUNDAY AFTERNOON THIS FALL A SCENE WILL BE repeated. A football team will play to a packed stadium. Everyone will watch a quarterback throw the ball to a receiver, who will score a touchdown, and the people will jump to their feet to celebrate.
And every Sunday morning in America a gifted pastor stands in a pulpit and preaches his heart out. Then he waits for a word of encouragement, a sign that he matters to those in the pews. Often, it never comes. With an ache in his heart he goes home, wondering why no one came to celebrate.
So why celebrate the shepherd? Because pastors need physical support. I'm reminded of a shepherd named Moses, who stood atop a hill with the staff of God in his hands. We read in Exodus 17:10-13 that Moses' hands grew tired and became so heavy he couldn't hold them up without the help of two men named Aaron and Hur, who held his hands steady until sunset. He needed the physical support of others to win the battle.
Why celebrate the shepherd? Because pastors need spiritual support. I read of another Shepherd, praying in a garden, whose burden was so heavy that an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him whose sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. I hear Him say to His friends, in Luke 22:46, "Why are you sleeping? . . . Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation." He needed the spiritual support of his brethren, so He exhorted them to watch and pray.
Why celebrate the shepherd? Because pastors need family support. I remember a shepherd who was called away from home and family at all hours of the day and night. He would faithfully go when called to minister to a person in a hospital bed, to a home in the midst of a family crisis. He visited those who were in chains. He fed the hungry. He helped the homeless. He practiced what he preached about the love and grace of Jesus by being a doer of the Word.
That shepherd seldom got the chance to go fishing, play ball or attend school events with his children. He would apologize to his family for all the unseen hours that pastoral ministry required. His family was supported by loving church members who recognized the importance of what one man can do when his family is nurtured and cared for.
That family was my family, and that shepherd was my father. He was and is my hero. And that's why I raise my hands to celebrate the Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ and His gifts, His heart, mind and Spirit in you, our pastors.
Layton Howerton, in Focus on the Family, September, 1999
SEPTEMBER AT BETHESDA
The summer is almost over, yet our weather in Florida is still nice and warm. Like most other places however, we too have our advantages and our disadvantages. God has blessed us in so many ways and we are grateful for His loving care. However, at times He must remind us that He is God over all things including the elements. Thus we witness wind and rain and even hurricanes. The month of September proved to be a rather trying month for us. We had lots of rain which helped the growth or our fruit. But we also hosted Hurricane Floyd and all of its damaging results. God had spared us from any major damage but many precautions had to be taken. We had to board up our windows and doors and secure all loose things around the Home. In addition, the authorities mandated a forced evacuation. This meant that we had to pack up 72 people with all of their medication and personal items and transport them to Orlando, Florida where we found room for them in the basement of a Methodist church. Needless to say, this was quite a chore. I must say however that our personnel did a stellar job to protect our people from the ravages of the storm. As matters turned out however, the storm only brushed our shores and we were spared much damage. We wish to thank ail those who upheld us in their prayers and called us indicating their concern. Unfortunately, I personally was not present at the time since I was away in Europe, but we have devoted employees who took good care of things during the storm. Our staff was in constant touch with our Go-Director, Elmer Kish, during the problem period.
Our Home is progressing very nicely. Our rooms are filled and we have a constant demand for openings. God has really been good to us and our residents value the care they are given. Bethesda has many friends who help us in so many ways. We have folks who help us with activities for our residents. Others come in to visit bringing small children and pots to give joy to our residents. Other people also remember us in various ways. We had two of our faithful friends remember Bethesda in their will which lee Bethesda certain sums of money upon their death. Two of these faithful friends were Esther Balls and Ruth Ban. Esther and her husband Emil were at one time administrators at our Home and they saw the work that the Home was doing with God's ageing children. Ruth Ban was the daughter of one of our founding fathers, Joseph Ban from McKeesport, Pa. She too knew the value of our services to the elderly. We are grateful to God for giving us such faithful friends who have kept in touch with us and have valued the work that your Bethesda Home has done for so many years. Most of you are aware of the fact that our Home at this time is up for sale. Up to now, we have had little activity. As soon as we have made progress in this matter I will advise all of our Convention people.
Our Home is still a haven for God's people where the love of God is still proclaimed on a daily basis. Our residents find our chapel a respite in the time of need as well as when services are being conducted. We request your continued prayers. ___Ernest J. Kish
Margaret Kovacs Nemeth
a beloved child of God went to be with the Lord on April 14, 1999. She was a devoted servant of God who had served her Lord during her entire 95 years.
She was the daughter of the Reverend Nicholas Kovacs who served as pastor of our Garfield, New Jersey church for many years. She also was a member of our Alhambra, California church and later in our Bethesda Baptist Church here in Palm Bay, Florida. Wherever she was, she served the Lord as a pianist, organist or solist. She also taught Sunday School and was an active member of our Women's organizations both on a local level as well as on our National level,
Margaret was a shining example of a devoted servant of God. She was faithful in all of her responsibilities. I am sure that she heard the call that is recorded in Matthew 25:21 "well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter into the joy of thy Lord."
Margaret had an abiding and unquestioning faith and hope in her Lord Jesus Christ. She is in Heaven with those she loved who preceded her, Margaret is survived by her son, Edward, his wife, Elizabeth, two grandchildren and four great grand children, two half sisters and a half brother. ___Ernest Kish
GOOD NEWS AND A REQUEST FOR HELP FROM YUGOSLAVIA
Cantavir - Csantavér
PLANS - VISIONS
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More than 15,000 people all over the world are praying for a gathering of evangelists, theologians, and church leaders from around the world next year, organizers say. Amsterdam 2000 is expected to be the world=s largest conference of preaching evangelists, involving 10,000 people from 185 countries who speak 25 languages. It will be held July 29 to Aug. 6, 2000, in the Netherlands and be sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. "The conference is intended to encourage and equip evangelists for their work in the 21st century and improve the bond between evangelists and the local church." ReligionToday.com
THE BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE
By Ellie Snyder
How would you answer if someone asked you, "What are the best years of your life?" Would your thoughts go back to your childhood when your parents did all the worrying, or to your 20’s as you began a career, got married and had children? Or perhaps you feel that the best years of your life are yet to come – when the children are grown and gone, or when you retire and travel the world. Why is it that for so many, the best years are always a time other than the present?
I grew up in a Hungarian Christian home in Australia, and I can remember as a young girl, lying on my bed, dreaming and planning how my life would be when I grew up. I even wrote a list of my dreams and kept it in my Bible. I smile now when I think of that list! It included: a tall handsome husband; six children; a Victorian house with a grand staircase; a huge garden filled with roses, violets and all my favorite flowers; a maid to do the ironing; and at the end of my list I wrote: "And I wish to live happily ever after!"
Well, the Lord has truly blessed my life over the years. He honored and granted many of my girlhood dreams. I married a wonderful, handsome Christian man; we have a beautiful son, a lovely home with a small garden where I’ve planted roses, violets and all our favorite flowers. I didn’t get the maid to do the ironing yet, but I’m still hoping!
God also took my list and changed, rearranged, and erased some things. These changes at times have been painful and very difficult. About two years ago, I came home from the gym one afternoon, feeling numbness and tingling in my arms and legs and extreme dizziness. I ended up in the hospital, as the doctors tried to determine the cause of my symptoms. It was a very anxious and scary time. After weeks of tests, the results finally came back. The doctor informed us that he believed I was possibly in the beginning stages of Multiple Sclerosis, and that only time would tell for sure.
We were shocked and devastated. M.S. is such a horrible disease, and there is no cure for it – I didn’t want to have it! There is so much I still want to see and do! To have another baby, to see my son grow up, to grow old and gray with my husband. No, this was not my plan.
The following weeks and months were very difficult, filled with more tests. I spent a lot of my time in bed with lots of quite time to read my Bible, pray, cry and think. As the days went by, the Lord gently worked in my heart. I found a wonderful verse in Psalm 40:5, "Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done and the plans you have made for us. There is none to compare with you. If I would declare and speak of them they would be too numerous to count." Wow! What a verse! It jumped off the page at me!
I began to see something so special and beautiful. I was overwhelmed by how much God loves me, that He has a special plan for my life, a wonderful list He wrote just for me, with plans too numerous to count!
I know He can take away this illness, or He may choose not to, and even though I don’t understand the reasons why now, God knows and I’m learning to trust Him more, for He has a better plan.
So many times it takes an illness or a tragedy to get our attention, for us to realize how very precious life is. Suddenly our priorities drastically change. The things we thought so important don’t mean that much at all, and the little things we neglected or were too busy to enjoy, become priceless and so precious. I don’t know what tomorrow or next month or next year will bring for me, but God knows. He has given me today and I can choose to hide in a corner or I can trust Him and take the gift of today and make "now" the best years of my life. To take more time to enjoy the beauty and blessings around me, to stop and smell the roses, take a walk, watch the sunset, enjoy a cup of tea with a friend, cherish my husband and family – the list is endless!
God’s blessings are everywhere and we need to slow down in our busy, hustle-bustle world and take time to thank Him for every day. Even though we may not understand why certain things happen in our lives, remember, God knows and He has a plan.
As I think of that list of dreams I wrote so many years ago as a young girl, I can smile because as a child of God, I will live happily ever after, just as I dreamed.
God gives me the strength and carries me through those rough days, when I have no strength of my own. I encourage you to embrace each day as a precious gift from God. Don’t take it for granted, or live in the past or worry about an uncertain future. God has given us today – let’s live and make each day, one at a time, into "the best years of our life."
Miracle on Christmas Eve
A miracle in the midst of tragedy. To Martha Vadasz Hunter, a retired home missionary in California, memories of that miracle come into sharpest focus on Christmas Eve.
Six-year-old Martha was one of eight children in a Hungarian family in Budapest in 1944. War engulfed Europe. The family clung to some feeling of security in their home and in their Baptist church. Underneath the church building was a bomb shelter, a bunker.
Martha=s father was in the army. Just three days before Christmas, he came home and said to Martha=s mother, You and the children must leave the city. The Russian army is very close.
Martha remembers: My mother didn=t want to go. She didn=t want to leave our house or our church. But my father decided we must go. He wanted his family to get out of the country, or at least to go to our grandmother=s place in a small town.
My father hired two trucks and two drivers; one truck was for food and personal belongings; the other was for my mother, my grandmother, and eight of us children -- the youngest a six-month-old. After helping us leave, he had to go back to the army. We lost contact with him for three years.
Although the family had decided to try to get out of the country, the Russians came faster than they thought.
It was dark when the two trucks came to a small bridge. As they started across, a bomb underneath the bridge exploded, wrecking the bridge and overturning the trucks. In the confusion that followed, Martha=s mother tried frantically to get her children together. The baby was missing. The eldest brother and sister were nowhere to be found. The family was soon surrounded by Russian soldiers. The two boys tried to run away; but their mother called them back, telling them they would be shot.
The Russian soldiers lined up the children and the grandmother. The mother was forced to stand with the soldiers who had guns trained on the helpless children and the old woman. The mother=s family was to be shot before her eyes!
Just as the soldiers raised their guns to shoot us, Martha remembers, we heard a shouting voice behind us. A Russian officer who was carrying my baby sister handed her to my mother. The Russian soldiers one by one walked away. The officer helped my mother find our missing brother and sister. They had been shot, but they were still alive.
The officer led the family to the nearest house, and helped them get a room with one bed in it.
When my mother and the officer had put my injured brother end sister to bed, Martha continues, we all knelt dawn and gave thanks to God for our rescue. The officer knelt down, too. We were one family in God.
My mother did not understand Russian, but somehow she understood this man. He said he believed the Bible, and was a Baptist. He had not seen his family in eight years. He showed us his children=s pictures, received in a letter.
My brother and sister who had been shot died that night.
The family never had a chance to go back to their home or their church in Budapest. When the war was over, the two brothers started out on foot to find their father. After two months, they found him at the home of an aunt.
Twelve years after that wonderful, yet tragic Christmas Eve, the family moved to Toronto, Canada. There they found a church, and in Martha=s words, participated in Christian fellowship again.
As long as she lives, Martha will be grateful that God intervened, using a stranger -- a fellow Christian -- to snatch her family from death.
Today Martha and her husband John Hunter, also Hungarian, have two sons and a daughter. The Hunters minister to Hungarians in the Hungarian Bible Church of Santa Monica.
(The original article was written by Alice Hyatt, appeared in Royal Service, July 1975.)